Environment | Sustainability | Ecotrope

Video: Beverly Cleary's Famed Klickitat Street Goes Green

Ecotrope | July 2, 2013 11:04 a.m. | Updated: July 2, 2013 12:47 p.m.

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If you ever read Beverly Cleary’s books as a kid, you know that Klickitat Street is home to characters Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby.

But what you might not know is that Klickitat Street is going green.

The city of Portland is turning it into an official greenway this summer by adding special curbs and rain gardens to soak up storm water runoff along a 60-block stretch of the famous street. The video above explains how it will work.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / OPB

Green streets are a citywide initiative to reduce the amount of polluted storm water pouring into the city’s sewer system.

The basic principle is that the more water the city can divert into soil and plants, the less will be flowing into storm drains and polluting nearby rivers.

During big storm events, too much rain can cause the sewers to overflow into local waterways. Portland now has about 1,300 green street facilities that soak up around 77 million gallons of stormwater.

Statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy honor Beverly Cleary's children's book characters, who lived on Portland's Klickitat Street.

Statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy honor Beverly Cleary's children's book characters, who lived on Portland's Klickitat Street.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / OPB

Cleary herself grew up in a neighborhood near Klickitat Street after moving to Portland during the Depression.

She told The New York Times she liked the word “Klickitat,” also the name of a Columbia River tribe, because “It reminded me of the sound of knitting needles.”

As a child, she played in Grant Park, where a sculpture garden featuring Henry Huggins, his dog Ribsy, and Ramona Quimby now commemorate the characters in Cleary’s children’s books “Henry Huggins” and “Beezus and Ramona.”

This summer, Klickitat Neighborhood Greenway Project is adding slanted pavement and slotted curbs along the roadway to direct storm water into rain gardens filled with thirsty plants. It’s also adding bike and pedestrian safety features that include closing a section of the street between NE 23rd and 24th avenues to car traffic.

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